Client Spotlight

NYCFC Embraces Creativity With Animated Video

Shawn Forno 02.08.2017

Today’s post is about animated video production with a behind the scenes look at the process of blending animation in live action for our latest video for the New York City Football Club!

Here’s a quick chat with director and editor, Doug Karr, at Pie Face Pictures, and IdeaRocket Founder and Creative Director, Will Gadea. They talk about animated video production, the collaboration process, integrating animation and live action, and harnessing creative inspiration when it strikes during a big project.


Can you give us a bit of a background on your organization and your role?

Doug Karr: I’m a director at Brooklyn based production company Pie Face Pictures. Along with commercial work for a wide variety of clients, I wrote and directed the feature film Art Machine, the ’09 Sundance short Ten for Grandpa, and ton of other projects.

Will Gadea: At IdeaRocket we usually make animated marketing or internal videos for really big companies. I’m the Creative Director which means I come up with the ideas, write them down, and bring in the people to execute them. That’s the fun part. It’s like a party—if you invite the right people, it’s bound to be a success!

Can you talk us through how the collaboration with NYCFC came around?

Doug: Will at IdeaRocket asked me to jump onboard to direct and edit the project from a fantastic script he’d written. The talented Gideon Kendall signed on to design the backgrounds and animation elements. The idea was to film our young hero, Michael, and Andrea on green screen and then composite them into the animated world after the fact.

Will: We’ve had a chance to work with MSG and the Knicks/Rangers organizations, which was probably part of the reason we came to the attention of NYCFC. We enjoy working with sports teams because you need to deliver fun and excitement.

Jim White, our Director of Business Development, reached out to Marcia Steinberg at NYCFC. Jim is a huge NYCFC fan. He was also the one that got us in touch with his cousin Michael—the kid in the video—who is an even bigger NYCFC fan. Michael isn’t acting in the video. When we were shooting, he’d be out in the hall, playing soccer one-on-one with his sister. He’s soccer mad.

animated video production

Creative Inspiration

Where did you take inspiration from for the video?

Doug: We went through a variety of animation styles in the pro-production phase and all got the most excited about a stylized Warner Brothers approach.

Will: Really, it was NYCFC that shaped it. It started out as a fully animated video, but they wanted to show the jersey and include Andrea. So I suggested a wholly live-action video, and NYCFC said, “Could it be sort of a hybrid?” That changed the scenario a bit. We pictured the fan figure as a young adult, but if we made him younger and put him in a drawn set, all of a sudden the idea came together and made sense.

Do you have a favorite detail or moment in the final product?

Doug: I love when Andrea kicks the ball inside the billboard and the ball launches off the building smashing the side of the billboard in the process. It was one of those magical filmmaking moments where we put Andrea’s composite into the animation and hadn’t cropped the ball to stop at the end of the billboard yet.

animated video production

My four year old son, Travis, was doing a little post production supervising at that moment and he noticed how cool it was that the ball was flying off the building. And then, as it often is with the best collaborations, Will and his team built on the idea from there, creating a shatter animation so the world interacts with the ball flying off.

That’s really my favorite part about the collaborative filmmaking process—one idea explodes into another, creating fertile ground to then improve and iterate.

Will: Doug, the director, came up with the idea of having the ball that Andrea kicks fly off the billboard. It’s a nice fanciful touch. My contribution was having the ball break the edge of the billboard. I love working with Doug—our ideas sort of build on each other.

Animated Video Production

What was the production process for this video?

Doug: We did a one day shoot on green screen. Lots of dribbling and kicking the ball in a confined space, but luckily none of the lights or crew members got hit 😉 Once we had the live action elements, I cut together a rough and sent it to IdeaRocket. From there Gideon—who designed the amazing backgrounds and animation elements—got to work.

animated video production

We all worked on compositing, animating, and refining the cut in a wonderful free flowing process. Once the animation and live action elements were all in place, some cartoon sound design helped to take the spot to the next level. It was such a wonderful experience working on this project!

Will: First we wrote the script. Then we made an animatic, which is a series of rough drawings timed to music—like a slideshow. We used the animatic for reference when we were shooting the green screen action, which all happened in one afternoon. Then Gideon created his beautiful backgrounds and Doug composited the live action over them. Phil Powers and Scott Strong from our studio pitched in with some additional animation.

I’m really happy with how it turned out! Michael and Andrea were great to work with. It’s the kind of world I would have liked to exist in when I was a kid.

When Animation and Collaboration Collide

Animated video production is a complicated process, and mixed media videos with live action elements are an even bigger challenge. Luckily the end results are always fantastic (and worth the extra effort!) when you collaborate with a talented team of professionals.

Shawn Forno

Shawn Forno is a massive Studio Ghibli fan who does content marketing. In that order. Find his other writing and extensive travel blogging here.

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